By NICK McQUEEN
After 11 years in the position and 15 years with the district, Hays High School Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Clint Albers has announced he will leave the school at the end of the year.
Albers, a Fort Hays State University graduate, has agreed to take the same position at Olathe South High School next fall, following the retirement this year of Robert Kersey, current AD.
"We'll miss Hays dearly," Albers said Tuesday, adding his decision was far from easy. "We have a lot of really good friends here, and have met a lot of great people over the years -- great kids, great staff at USD 489. It's just a good place to be, and that's why we've been here so long."
Albers, his wife, Dawn, and daughters Sydney, 10, and Lakin, 6, look to make the move to Olathe in late June and start working with the school in early to mid-July.
Albers, who played football at Fort Hays, started in 1999 at Hays High School as a physics and chemistry instructor, as well as an assistant football coach.
"It's been a good ride," said HHS Principal Marty Straub. "It's been fun mentoring him and working side-by-side, and it's been fun seeing him develop as a leader in our school."
Albers took the AD/AP job 11 years ago after longtime administrator Mike Karl retired from the position.
"I was not at all surprised he chose to get into influencing more kids and more arenas when he chose to take over after Mike Karl left," Straub said, noting Olathe South will gain a quality addition.
"You find your way in life. You end up where you're supposed to be," Straub added. "If that's where he feels he should be, it's a credit to them for finding a good young man and trying to hire him.
"We're going to miss him, but we'll find someone that will do a good job for our kids and our coaches."
Albers has seen various athletic teams in his tenure win numerous Western Athletic Conference titles and a handful of team and individual state championships, including four boys track and field titles under Ryan Cornelsen. He also is seeing the Indian boys' basketball season in the process of a historic season.
"It's been fun to be a part of it. We have things going in the right direction," Albers said. "Whoever comes in after me will continue that. We have great kids and great people in this district, with great staff and great coaches."
He is excited about the opportunity to move to a larger school, though -- and that played a factor. Olathe South is Class 6A and has approximately 2,100 students.
"My colleagues up there kept after me, kept encouraging," Albers said. "After weighing our options, we thought it wouldn't hurt to throw our hat in the ring and see what happens. We could always make the decision later on."
When he was offered the position, he and Dawn mulled over it for quite some time, but ultimately made the decision to move on.
"Good move for not only my career, but also for our family," he said. "My wife is excited for the opportunities, and ultimately a good move for our family, and there will be good opportunities for our kids."
He did admit the kids didn't share the excitement immediately.
"They were a little upset at first about not wanting to leave," he said. "Hays is all they've ever known. But they've got excited about the change, now."
One big change will be the amount of time Albers will have to spend on the road.
It's not out of the ordinary in the Western Athletic Conference to have to drive three hours for a football or basketball game.
Straub, who came to Hays from Derby, said that's a different direction from what he and his family did.
"He's going to a place where he'll drive 20 minutes for an away game, and be home for the 10 o'clock news," Straub said. "That time is precious with your family."
Dawn is a speech-and-language pathologist at HaysMed.
"It just felt comfortable, much like it does here," Albers said of Olathe South. "I've been blessed to work with some great people in this high school, in this district. Going forward, we continue to be blessed in that manner."